New York, Early 6o's / Fruhe 6oer Jahre © Peter Moore
Edited by / Herausgegeben von Dieter Schwarz
Kunstmuseum Winterthur / Edition Cantz
It might seem surprising to see the writings of Agnes Martin
being published in a book, for this artist born in Maklin,
Saskatchewan, in 1912 has never put aside her painting in favor
of theoretical manifestoes or programmatic statements. Agnes
Martin is an artist who has abandoned painting only occasion-
ally when she was engaged in drawing or making watercolors.
What Agnes Martin has presented is in fact a decidedly pure
painterly body of work that seems reserved exclusively to visual
perception and from which all literary allusions or representa-
tional references are banished. And yet we have a stately volume
with the artist’s writings of the past twenty years before us.
Only a few surviving notes from the fifties and the early sixties
provide us with an insight into Agnes Martin’s thinking of that
time. Next to external difficulties that led to the loss of numer-
ous paintings, her self-critical attitude is also to blame that only
fragments of her early work have survived. As she herself has
declared, she destroyed her early paintings in the course of the
last few decades as far as she still had access to them for,
according to her view, her work does not follow a genealogical
line. Just as little should it supply documentary reference points
for any kind of evolution or development. Such aspects are
extraneous to the claims of absoluteness and timelessness that
her painting demands. So it would be wrong to assume that
Agnes Martin’s work evolved towards the activity of writing.
The reason for recording her ideas at a given moment was an
invitation by the Institute of Contemporary Art of the University
of Pennsylvania to deliver a lecture. She was in a longer period
of abstention from painting then. Since she had left New York
for New Mexico in 1967 because she had lost her apartment in
the artist’s community Coenties Slip at the southern tip of
Manhattan, she had not painted any more. Only in 1974 would
she take up to her work as an artist again, with On a Clear Day,
a series of prints.
The lecture On the Perfection Underlying Life was completed
only after numerous onsets — the published version of the
manuscript is entitled “Beginning No. 5”. This speech addressed
to young artists is neither an autobiographical review by an
artist of an older generation nor an essayistic reflexion about the
chosen subject. No, this is a true speech, a monologue in which
each new element joins the preceding sentence or idea in a
seemingly clumsy pace that allows every sentence to unfold in an
uniform way. Agnes Martin delivers precise statements on the
artist and his work, the solitude of the artist, on notions like
beauty and truth. Yet the result is'more than a mere statement.
In the process of writing, in thi% mner speech, the conviction
grows on her that the ideas that result from personal experience,
that the particular individual experience of the artist inevitably
become detached from the personal and turn into universal
truths. The handwritten lecture moves away from the painting it
cannot reproduce, but it attempts to transmit analogically the
hopeful awareness of the unity of truth and beauty in the work
Writing and speaking: the precise form of Agnes Martin’s talk
led the critic Ann Wilson to write down some of the stories that
often recur in the artist’s conversation, without interfering too
strongly with the flow of her words. This is how, along with
other texts, The Untroubled Mind has come about. In retrospect
Agnes Martin meets this text — it has been published several
times — and the lectures she wrote down herself with the same
friendly scepticism. In re-reading her texts, she is doubtful when
trying to bring back to mind her own thoughts. She is sceptical
about the manuscript that has become conclusive by being
reproduced. Her manuscripts are collected and published by
others. She has discarded things that were of no more impor-
tance to her, things like manuscripts of speeches and lectures
once they were held.
In the tension that exists between the abiding static form of the
individual paragraphs and the dynamic narrative pull of the
text, the flow of words in such a lecture transmits something of
the emphasis and the subtle impatience that also characterize
the paintings of Agnes Martin. These pictures that seem so calm
are the result of an intensive, moved process of painting whose
physical intensity is not expressed in gestural brushwork but
through the insistence through which Agnes Martin pursues a
pictorial idea day after day. Most of the results of this continu-
ous painterly work are rejected or painted over. Eventually only
a few paintings are left. Those that seem successful to her, in
which she sees her idea of leaving the preconceived, fixed form
left behind and where the concept of creating a space for
perception is realized stroke by stroke, line by line:
“My paintings have neither object nor space nor line nor
anything — no forms. They are light, lightness, about merging,
about formlessness, breaking down form. You wouldn’t think
of form by the ocean. You can go in if you don’t encounter
anything. A world without objects, without interruption, mak-
ing a work without interruption or obstacle. It is to accept the
necessity of the simple direct going into a field of vision as you
would cross an empty beach to look at the ocean.”
I hope I have made it clear that the work is about perfection as
we are aware of it in our minds but that the paintings are very
far from being perfect — completely removed in fact — even as we
In graphic arts and all the arts technique is a hazard even as it is
in living life.
Everyone recognizes the nature pattern of unequal and contest-
ing or related parts.
Classicism foresakes the nature pattern.
The underside of the leaf
Cool in shadow
Smiling of innocence
The frailest stems
Quivering in light
Bend and break
This poem, like the paintings, is not really about nature. It is not
what is seen. It is what is known forever in the mind.
The silence on the floor of my house
Is all the questions and all the answers that have been known in
The sentimental furniture threatens the peace
The reflection of a sunset speaks loudly of days
Huang Po, page 50, John Blofeld:
The Buddha has three bodies
the Dharntakaya — the void-pure mind, freedom
the Sambhogakaya — the underlying purity (the classic)
the Nirmanakaya — ritualistic
The last two are not real teachers of the true Dharnta
Art work has only a tintering of what it attempts to represent to
the artist and to responsive observers. It is not beneficial,
nothing is gained from it, and it does not tell the truth. It is
enjoyed or not according to the condition of the observer. A
very small gesture of exultation.
Good criticism by Robert Coates in the New Yorker Magazine,
Sept, or Oct. 1961.
Comparison with Albers who was showing in Janis G. at the
The struggle of existence, non existence is not my struggle. The
establishment of the perfect state not mine to do. Being outside
that struggle I turn to perfection as I see it in my mind, and as
I also see it with my eyes even in the dust.
Although I do not represent it very well in my work, all seeing
the work, being already familiar with the subject, are easily
reminded of it.
In my best moments I think “Life has passed me by” and I am
Walking seems to cover time and space but in reality we are
always just where we started. I walk but in reality I am hand in
hand with contentment on my own doorstep.
The ocean is deathless
The islands rise and die
Quietly come, quietly go
A silent swaying breath
1 wish the idea of time would drain out of my cells and leave me
quiet even on this shore.
We cannot even imagine how to be humble.
1 can see humility
Delicate and white
It is satisfying
Just by itself
a precious gift
1 would rather think of humility than anything else.
Humility, the beautiful daughter
She cannot do either right or wrong
She does not do anything
All of her ways are empty
Infinitely light and delicate
She treads an even path
Sweet, smiling, uninterrupted, free
The Thinking Reed
We need more and different flags.
What is the worm of the world that spoils exultation?
One who has become all eyes does not see.
To try to understand is to court misunderstanding.
Not to know but to go on.
Anything is a mirror.
There are two endless directions. In and out.
Response to Art
When we go to museums we do not just look, we make a
definite response to the work. As we look at it we are happier or
more sad, more at peace or more depressed. A work may
stimulate yearning, helplessness, belligerence or remorse.
The cause of the response is not traceable in the work. An artist
cannot and does not prepare for a certain response. He does not
consider the response but simply follows his inspiration.
Works of art are not purposely conceived. The response depends
upon the condition of the observer.
In our minds there is an awareness of perfection and when we
look with our eyes we see it.
I would like my work to be recognized as being in the classic
tradition (Coptic, Egyptian, Greek, Chinese), as representing the
Ideal in the mind. Classical art can not possibly be eclectic. One
must see the Ideal in one’s own mind. It is like a memory of
The adventurous state of mind is a high house.
To enjoy life the adventurous state of mind must be grasped and
The essential feature of adventure is that it is a going forward
into unknown territory.
The joy of adventure is unaccountable.
This is the attractiveness of art work. It is adventurous, strenu-
ous and joyful.
Especially when the morning air is struck alive
Especially when the stream runs cool and the grass drinks
Especially in sweet sleep when small waves go back on
Clear shining tumbling gay
Soft lifting serene
Because 1 cannot see
Because I cannot know my desire
Because of burning and ashes
I am looking on my own death
Now in desperation I will help this one, that one
But there will be no help given
There will be hope and determination and no breathing
Answer to an Inquiry
My formats are square, but the grids never are absolutely
square; they are rectangles, a little bit off the square, making a
sort of contradiction, a dissonance, though I didn’t set out to do
it that way. When I cover the square surface with rectangles, it
lightens the weight of the square, destroys its power.
I’d like to talk about the perfection underlying life
when the mind is covered over with perfection
and the heart is filled with delight
but 1 wish not to deny the rest.
In our minds, there is awareness of perfection;
when we look with our eyes we see it,
and how it functions is mysterious to us and unavailable.
When we live our lives it’s something like a race - our minds
become concerned and covered over and we get depressed and
have to get away for a holiday.
And then sometimes there are moments of perfection
and in these moments we wonder why we ever thought life was
We think that at last our feet are on the right path and that we
will not falter or fail.
We’re absolutely convinced we have the solution and then the
moment is over.
Moments of awareness are not complete awareness,
just as moments of blindness are not completely blind.
In moments of blindness when you meet someone you know
they seem hardly recognizable,
and one seems even a stranger to oneself.
These experiences of the mind are too quickly passed over and
although startling moments of awareness are never forgotten.
Seeking awareness of perfection in the mind is called
living the inner life.
It is not necessary for artists to live the inner life.
It is only necessary for them to recognize inspiration or to
Our representations of inspiration are far from perfect
for perfection is unobtainable and unattainable.
Moments of awareness of perfection and of inspiration are alike
except that inspirations are often directives to action.
Many people think that if they are attuned to fate, all their
inspirations will lead them toward what they want and need.
But inspiration is really just the guide to the next thing
and may be what we call success or failure.
The bad paintings have to be painted
and to the artist these are more valuable than those paintings
later brought before the public.
A work of art is successful when there is a hint of perfection
at the slightest hint . . . the work is alive.
The life of the work depends upon the observer, according to his
own awareness of perfection and inspiration.
The responsibility of the response to art is not with the artist.
To feel confident and successful is not natural to the artist.
To feel insufficient,
to experience disappointment and defeat in waiting for
is the natural state of mind of an artist.
As a result praise to most artists is a little embarrassing.
They cannot take credit for inspiration,
for we can see perfectly, but we cannot do perfectly.
Many artists live socially without disturbance to mind,
but others must live the inner experiences of mind, a solitary
way of living.
The Untroubled Mind
People think that painting is about color
It’s mostly composition
It’s composition that’s the whole thing
The classic image —
Two late Tang dishes, one with a flower image,
one empty — the empty form goes all the way to heaven
It is the classic form — lighter weight
My work is anti-nature
The four-story mountain
You will not think form, space, line, contour
Just a suggestion of nature gives weight
light and heavy
light like a feather
you get light enough and you levitate
When I say it’s alive, it’s inspired
Inspiration and life are equivalents and they come from
Beauty is pervasive
inspiration is pervasive
We say this rose is beautiful
and when this rose is destroyed then we have lost something
so that beauty has been lost
When the rose is destroyed we grieve
but really beauty is unattached
and a clear mind sees it
The rose represents nature
but it isn’t the rose
beauty is unattached, it’s inspiration — it’s inspiration
The development of sensibility, the response to beauty
In early childhood, when the mind is untroubled, is when
inspiration is most possible
The little child just sitting in the snow
The education of children - social development is contradictory
to aesthetic development
Nature is conquest, possession, eating, sleeping, procreation
It is not aesthetic, not the kind of inspiration I’m interested in
Nature is the wheel
When you get off the wheel you’re looking out
You stand with your back to the turmoil
You never rest with nature, it’s a hungry thing
Every animal that you meet is hungry
Not that 1 don’t believe in eating
but I just want to make the distinction between
art and eating
This painting I like because you can get in there and rest
The satisfaction of appetite happens to be impossible
The satisfaction of appetite is frustrating
So it’s always better to be a little bit hungry
That way you contradict the necessity
Not that I’m for asceticism
but the absolute trick in life is to find rest
If there’s life in the composition it stimulates your life moments,
your happy moments, your brain is stimulated
Saint Augustine says that milk doesn’t come from the mother
I painted a painting called Milk River
Cows don’t give milk if they don’t have grass and water
Tremendous meaning of that is that painters can’t give
anything to the observer
People get what they need from a painting
The painter need not die because of responsibility
When you have inspiration and represent inspiration
The observer makes the painting
The painter has no responsibility to stimulate his needs
It’s all an enormous process
No suffering is unnecessary
All of it is only enlightening, this is life
Asceticism is a mistake
sought out suffering is a mistake
but what comes to you free is enlightening
I used to paint mountains here in New Mexico and I thought
my mountains looked like ant hills
I saw the plains driving out of New Mexico and 1 thought
the plain had it
just the plane
If you draw a diagonal, that’s loose at both ends
I don’t like circles — too expanding
When I draw horizontals
you see this big plane and you have certain feelings like
you’re expanding over the plane
Anything can be painted without representation
I don’t believe in influence
unless it’s you, yourself following your own track
Why, you’d never get anywhere
I don’t believe in the eclectic
I believe in the recurrence
That this is a return to classicism
Classicism is not about people
and this work is not about the world
We called Greek classicism Idealism
Idealism sounds like something you can strive for
They didn’t strive for idealism at all
Just follow what Plato has to say
Classicists are people that look out with their back to the world
It represents something that isn’t possible in the world
More perfection than is possible in the world
It’s as unsubjective as possible
The ideal in America is the natural man
The conqueror, the one that can accumulate
The one who overcomes disadvantages, strength, courage
Whereas inspiration, classical art depends on inspiration
The Sylphides — I depend on the muses
Muses come and help me now
It exists in the mind
Before it’s represented on paper it exists in the mind
The point — it doesn’t exist in the world
The classic is cool
a classical period
it is cool because it is impersonal
the detached and impersonal
If a person goes walking in the mountains that is not detached
and impersonal, he’s just looking back
Being detached and impersonal is related to freedom
That’s the answer for inspiration
The untroubled mind
Plato says that all that exists are shadows
To a detached person the complication of the involved life
is like chaos
If you don’t like the chaos you’re a classicist
If you like it you’re a romanticist
Someone said all human emotion is an idea
Painting is not about ideas or personal emotion
When I was painting in New York I was not so clear about that
Now I’m very clear that the object is freedom
not political freedom, which is the echo
not freedom from social mores
freedom from mastery and slavery
freedom from what’s dragging you down
freedom from right and wrong
In Genesis Eve ate the apple of knowledge
of good and evil
When you give up the idea of right and wrong
you don’t get anything
What you do is get rid of everything
freedom from ideas and responsibility
If you live by inspiration then you do what comes to you
you can’t live the moral life, you have to obey destiny
you can’t live the inspired life and live the conventions
you can’t make promises
The future’s a blank page
I pretended I was looking at the blank page
I used to look in my mind for the unwritten page
if my mind was empty enough I could see it
I didn’t paint the plane
I just drew this horizontal line
Then I found out about all the other lines
But I realized what I liked was the horizontal line
Then I painted the two rectangles
if they’re just right
You can’t get away from what you have to do
They arrive at an interior balance
like there shouldn’t need to be anything added
People see a color that’s not there
our responses are stimulated
I’m painting them for direct light
With these rectangles I didn’t know at the time exactly why
1 painted those rectangles
From Isaiah, about inspiration
“Surely the people is grass”
You go down to the river
you’re just like me
an orange leaf is floating
you’re just like me
Then I drew all those rectangles
All the people were like those rectangles
they are just like grass
That’s the way to freedom
If you can imagine you’re a grain of sand
you know the rock ages
If you imagine that you’re a rock
rock of ages cleft from me
let me hide myself in thee
You don’t have to worry
if you can imagine that you’re a rock
all your troubles fall away
Sand is better
You’re so much smaller as a grain of sand
We are so much less
These paintings are about freedom from the cares of this world
You don’t have to be religious to have inspirations
Senility is looking back with nostalgia
senility is lack of inspiration in life
Art restimulates inspirations and awakens sensibilities
that’s the function of art
A boy whenever he had a problem
he called this rock up out of the mud
he turned into a rock
he summoned a vision of quiet
The idea is independence and solitude
nothing religious in my retirement
religion from my point of view
it’s about this grass
The grass enjoyed it when the wind blew
It really enjoyed the wind leaning this way and that
So the grass thought the wind is a great comfort
besides that it blows the clouds here which make rain
In fact we owe all our self being to the wind
We should tell the wind our gratitude
perhaps if we fall down and abase ourselves
We can get more — we can avoid suffering
solitude and independence for a free mind
Nothing that happens in your life makes inspiration
When your eyes are open
you see beauty in anything
Blake’s rightabout there’s no difference
between the whole thing
and one thing
Freedom from suffering
suffering is necessary for freedom from suffering
First you have to find out about what you’re suffering from
My painting is about impotence
We are ineffectual
In a big picture a blade of grass amounts to not very much
Worries fall off you when you can believe that
pride is in abeyance when you think that
One thing I’ve got a good grip on is remorse
The whole wave
it applies to life, the wave
As it was in the beginning, there was no division
and no separation
Don’t look at the stars
Then your mind goes freely - way, way beyond
Look between the rain
the drops are insular
Try to remember before you were born
The conqueror will fight with you
if there’s no one else around
I am constantly tempted to think that I can help save myself
by looking into my mind I can see what’s there
by bringing thoughts to the surface of my mind I can watch
I can see my ego and see its intentions
1 can see that it is the same as all nature
1 can see that it is myself and impotent like all nature
impotent in the process of dissolution of ego, of itself
I can see that its main intention is the conquest and destruction
of ego, of self
and can only go back and forth in constant battle with itself
It would be an endless battle if it were all up to ego
because it does not destroy and is not destroyed by itself
It is like a wave
it makes itself up, it rushes forward getting nowhere really
it crashes, withdraws and makes itself up again
pulls itself together with pride
towers with pride
rushes forward into imaginary conquest
crashes in frustration
withdraws with remorse and repentance
pulls itself together with new resolution
Individually and collectively the same
children trained in pride and patriotism
towering in national spirit
charging in conquest
Victory and defeat and frustration
withdrawing and repentance
then once more pride
the wheel of life
Victory defeat frustration
More people at an earlier age see the conqueror in themselves
then see the way out in another process
the real defeat of ego in which we have no part
The dissolution of ego in reality as it was in the beginning
as it was before we were separate and insular
the process we call destiny
in which we are the material to be dissolved
We can see the process and recognize suffering as the defeat of
ego by the process of destiny
We can relinquish pride, conquest, remorse and resolution
inevitably as destiny unfolds
Cradled on the mountain I can rest
Solitude and freedom are the same
under every fallen leaf
Others do not really exist in solitude, 1 do not exist
no thinking of others even when they are there, no interruption
a mystic and a solitary person are the same
Night, shelterless, wandering
I, like the deer, looked
finding less and less
living is grazing
memory is chewing cud
wandering away from everything
giving up everything
not me anymore, any of it
retired ego, wandering
on the mountain
no more conquests, no longer an enemy to anyone
ego retired, wandering
no longer a friend, master, slave
all the opposites dead to the world and himself unresponsible
perhaps I can now really enjoy sailing
adventure in the dark
Beast seems to be stretched out dead
He is very mild
1 will not be seeking adventure but it might happen 1 suppose
Inspired action is destiny
our feet are in the paths of righteousness
the paths that our feet take are marked
As the river runs to the sea
and the plant grows to the sun
so do we flow and grow and exist
Ecstasy playing with Sylphides angels
As long as I look in my mind and see nothing at all
The Sylphides have the beast captured and are grooming him
very pleasant sun, that is what destiny is like
it is like grooming
the sudden realization of the destruction of innocence by ego
In solitude there is consolation
thinking of others and myself, even plants
I am immediately apprehensive
because my solitude has been interrupted
Westward down the mountain
I am nothing absolutely
There is this other thing going on
the purification of reality
that is all that is happening
all that happens is that process
not nature, the dissolution of nature
The error is in thinking we have
a part to play in the process
As long as we think that, we are in resistance
I can see that I have nothing to do with the process
It is very pleasant
The all of all, reality, mind
the process of destiny
like the ocean full to the brim
like a dignified journey with no trouble and no goal on and on
other than nature
Everyone is chosen and everyone knows it
including animals and plants
There is only the all of the all
everything is that
every infinitesimal thought and action is part and parcel of
a wonderful victory
“freedom on the mountain, a glimpse of victory”
We seem to be winning and losing assassination of a
When they were draggin’ Willie through the river Lethe he
practically drowned the devils all three. When he got to the
other side he saw the iron mountains there — solid iron, you
There’s a big fire in the middle of the mountain, you know.
Willie saw the damned there.
Willie took one look at the damned.
He jumped right in the middle of the fire.
The devils called: “Come out, you’re not supposed to do that.”
They could see him sitting in there.
They came back, and he was still sitting in there, a glowing
and on the third day he came out
and he was immune to the flames
and he walked right up to satan’s office
and he signed up to be a devil.
Willie was very fond of his mother when he was little. He prayed
to God and said: “Please God I want to love my mother with my
whole heart and soul. And 1 want everything to be like it is now.”
And God answered: “Okay Willie.”
Then Willie met this beautiful woman.
“As a matter of fact I want you to change that, I want you to
make it that 1 love my wife.”
And Willie had a son.
And he says: “I want that changed.”
And God said to the angels: “Take care of Willie.”
And the angels said: “What are we going to do with these
human beings they all want the same thing and want it
And God says: “Arrange it that way. Everything stays the same and
everything changes. What is in the world is really opposites.”
Parable of the Equal Hearts
Once there were two lovers that had equal hearts.
One would pursue one,
the other would pursue the other.
Then the angels looked down and said:
“What a waste”, and made them perceive each other.
Their hearts melted into one.
They had no use for the world
so they leaped into the swift river.
This heart was always restless
and the only place where it had any rest at all was on the beach.
But even on the beach one said:
“1 wish we’d never been made one.”
And immediately one half flew up in the sky
and the other half into the sea.
But they yearned for each other.
And when it rained the one in the sea said:
“This is a message from my other half in the sky.”
And when the water was evaporated from the ocean and rose
up, the other said:
“This is a message from my other half in the sea.”
The angels were stumped.
There’s one thing that God is not able to endure —
a suffering heart.
He felt one half in the sky and one half in the sea.
God thought what to do.
So the one in the sky fell down into the sea
and immediately both turned to sea water.
Ever since that time when the water is drawn up from the sea
and it rains this is not an ordinary rain. It’s the rain that affects
people and softens them. I painted a painting called This Rain.
Lecture at Cornell University
I want to talk to you about “the work”, art work.
I will speak of inspiration, the studio, viewing art work, friends
of art, and artists’ temperaments.
But your interest and mine is really “the work” — works of art.
Art work is very important in the way that I will try to show
when I speak about inspiration.
1 have sometimes put myself ahead of my work in my mind and
have suffered in consequence.
I thought me, me; and I suffered.
I thought I was important. I was taught to think that. I was
taught: “"You are important; people are important beyond any-
But thinking that I suffered very much.
I thought that I was big and “the work” was small. It is not
possible to go on that way. To think I am big is the work is big.
The position of pride is not possible either.
And to think I am small and the work is small, the position of
modesty, is not possible.
1 will go on to inspiration and perhaps you will see what is
As I describe inspiration I do not want you to think I am
speaking of religion.
That which takes us by surprise — moments of happiness — that
is inspiration. Inspiration which is different from daily care.
Many people as adults are so startled by inspiration which is
different from daily care that they think they are unique in
having had it. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Inspiration is there all the time.
For everyone whose mind is not clouded over with thoughts
whether they realize it or not.
Most people have no realization whatever of the moments in
which they are inspired.
Inspiration is pervasive but not a power.
It’s a peaceful thing.
It is a consolation even to plants and animals.
Do not think that it is unique.
If it were unique no one would be able to respond to your work.
Do not think it is reserved for a few or anything like that.
It is an untroubled mind.
Of course we know that an untroubled state of mind cannot
last. So we say that inspiration comes and goes but really it is
there all the time waiting for us to be untroubled again. We can
therefore say that it is pervasive. Young children are more
untroubled than adults and have many more inspirations. All
the moments of inspiration added together make what we call
sensibility. The development of sensibility is the most important
thing for children and adults but is much more possible in
children. In adults it would be more accurate to say that the
awakening to their sensibility is the most important thing. Some
parents put the development of social mores ahead of aesthetic
development. Small children are taken to the park for social
play; sent to nursery school and headstart. But the little child
sitting alone, perhaps even neglected and forgotten, is the one
open to inspiration and the development of sensibility.
On the Perfection Underlying Life
The process of life is hidden from us. The meaning of suffering is
held from us. And we are blind to life.
We are blinded by pride. Pride has built another structure and it is
called “Life”, but living the prideful life we are frustrated and lost.
It is not possible to overthrow pride. It is not possible because
we ourselves are pride, Pride the Dragon and Pride the Deceiver
as it is called in mythology. But we can witness the defeat of
pride because pride cannot hold out. Pride is not real, so sooner
or later it must go down.
When pride in some form is lost we feel very different. We feel
the victory over pride, and we feel very different being for a few
moments free of pride. We feel a moment of perfection that is
indescribable, a sudden joy in living.
Our best opportunity to witness the defeat of pride is in our
work, in all the time that we are working and in the work itself.
Work is self expression. We must not think of self-expression as
something we may do or something we may not do. Self-
expression is inevitable. In your work, in the way that you do
your work and in the results of your work your self is expressed.
Behind and before self-expression is a developing awareness in
the mind that effects the work. This developing awareness I will
also call “the work”. It is a most important part of the work.
There is the work in our minds, the work in our hands and the
work as a result.
In your work, in everyone’s work, in the work of the world, the
work that reminds of pride is gradually abandoned. Having in
moments of perfection enjoyed freedom from pride we know
that that is what we want. With this knowing we recognize and
eliminate expressions of pride.
I will now speak directly to the art students present as an
illustration of the wmrk, with particular references to art work.
My interest and yours is art work, works of art, every smallest
work of art and every kind of art work. We are very interested.
dedicated in fact. There is no halfway with art. We wake up
thinking about it and we go to sleep thinking about it.
We go everywhere looking for it, both artists and non-artists. It
is very mysterious the fast hold that it has upon us considering
how little we know about it. We do not even understand our
own response to our own work.
Why do we go everywhere searching out works of art and why do
we make works of art. The answer is that we are inspired to do so.
When we wake up in the morning we are inspired to do some
certain thing and we do do it. The difficulty lies in the fact that it
may turn out well or it may not turn out well. If it turns out well
we have a tendency to think that we have successfully followed
our inspiration and if it does not turn out well we have a
tendency to think that we have lost our inspiration. But that is
not true. There is successful work and work that fails but all of it
is inspired. I will speak later about successful works of art but
here 1 want to speak of failures. Failures that should be dis-
carded and completely cut off.
1 have come especially to talk to those among you who recognize
these failures. I want particularly to talk to those who recognize
all of their failures and feel inadequate and defeated, to those
who feel insufficient — short of what is expected or needed. I
would like somehow to explain that these feelings are the
natural state of mind of the artist, that a sense of disappointment
and defeat is the essential state of mind for creative work.
In order to do this 1 would like to consider further those
moments in which we feel joy in living. To some, these moments
are very clear and to others a vagueness that can only be
described as below the level of consciousness. Whether con-
scious or unconscious they do their work and they are the
incentive to life. A stockpile of these moments gives us an
awareness of perfection in our minds and this awareness of
perfection in our minds makes all the difference in what we do.
Moments of perfection are indescribable but a few things can be
said about them. At such times we are suddenly very happy and
we wonder why life ever seemed troublesome. In an instant we
can see the road ahead free from all difficulties and we think
that we will never lose it again. All this and a great deal more in
barely a moment, and then it is gone.
But all such moments are stored in the mind. They are called
sensibility or awareness of perfection in the mind.
We must surrender the idea that this perfection that we see in
the mind or before our eyes is obtainable or attainable. It is
really far from us. We are no more capable of having it than the
infant that tries to eat it. But our happiness lies in our moments
of awareness of it.
The function of art work is the stimulation of sensibilities, the
renewal of memories of moments of perfection.
There is only one way in which artists can serve this function of
art. There is only one way in which successful works of art can
be made. To make works of art that stimulate sensibilities and
renew moments of perfection an artist must recognize the works
that illustrate his own moments of perfection.
Perfection, of course, cannot be represented. The slightest indi-
cation of it is eagerly grasped by observers. The work is so far
from perfection because we ourselves are so far from perfection.
The oftener we glimpse perfection or the more conscious we are
in our awareness of it the farther away it seems to be. Or
perhaps I should say the more we are aware of perfection the
more we realize how very far away from us it is. That is why art
work is so very hard. It is a working through disappointments
and a growing recognition of failure to the point of defeat. But
still one wakes in the morning and there is the inspiration and
one goes on.
I want to emphasize the fact that increase in disappointment
does not mean going backward in the work. There is no such
thing as going backward in anything. There is increased and
decreased awareness, that is all, and increased awareness means
increased disappointments. If any perfection is indicated in the
work it is recognized by the artist as truly miraculous so he feels
that he can take no credit for its sudden appearance.
What does it mean to be defeated. It means that we cannot go
on. We cannot make another move. Everything that we thought
we could do we have done without result. We even give up all
hope of getting the work and perhaps even the desire to have it.
But we still go on without hope or desire or dreams or anything.
Just going on with almost no memory of having done anything.
Then it is not us.
Then it is not I.
Then it is not conditioned response.
Then there is some hope of a hint of perfection.
Without hope there is hope.
And without desire there is hope.
We do not ever stop because there is no way to stop. No matter
what you do you will not escape. There is no way out. You may
as well go ahead with as little resistance as possible - and eat
everything on your plate.
Going on without resistance or notions is called discipline.
Going on where hope and desire have been left behind is
Going on in an impersonal way without personal considerations
is called a discipline.
Not thinking, planning, scheming is a discipline.
Not caring or striving is a discipline.
Defeated, you will rise to your feet as is said of Dry Bones.
These bones will rise again.
Undefeated you will have nothing to say but more of the same.
Defeated you will stand at the door of your house to welcome
the unknown, putting behind you all that is known.
Defeated, having no place to go you will perhaps wait and be
As in the night. To penetrate the night is one thing. But to be
penetrated by the night that is to be overtaken.
Defeated, exhausted and helpless you will perhaps go a little bit
Helplessness, even a mild state of helplessness is extremely hard
to bear. Moments of helplessness are moments of blindness. One
feels as though something terrible has happened without know-
ing what it is. One feels as though one is in the outer darkness or
as though one has made some terrible error - a fatal error. Our
great help that we leaned on in the dark has deserted us and we
are in a complete panic and we feel that we have got to have help.
The panic of complete helplessness drives us to fantastic
extremes, and feelings of mild helplessness drive us to a ridicu-
lousness. We go from reading religious doctrine and occult
practices to changing our diet. Or front absolute self-abasement
or abandonment to every known and unknown fetish.
It is hard to realize at the time of helplessness that that is the
time to be awake and aware. The feeling of calamity and loss
covers everything. We imagine that we are completely cut off
and tremble with fear and dread. The more we are aware of
perfection the more we will suffer when we are blind to it in
But helplessness when fear and dread have run their course, as
all passions do, is the most rewarding state of all. It is a time
when our most tenacious prejudices are overcome. Our most
tightly gripped resistances come under the knife and we are
made more free. Our lack of independence in helplessness is our
most detrimental weakness from the standpoint of art work.
Stated positively, independence is the most essential character
trait in an artist.
Although helplessness is the most important state of mind the
holiday state of mind is the most efficacious for artists: “Free
and easy wandering” it is called by the Chinese sage Chuang
Tzu. In free and easy wandering there is only freshness and
adventure. It is really awareness of perfection within the mind.
Everyone has memories of adventures within the mind, strange
and pleasant memories, but not everyone is aware of adventures
within the mind when they happen.
I want to recommend the exploration of mind and the adven-
tures within in the mind. It takes so much time, that is the
difficulty. It is so hard to slow down to the pace where it is
possible to explore one’s mind. And then of course one must go
absolutely alone with not one thought about others intruding
because then one would be off in relative thinking.
Being an artist is a very solitary business. It is not artists that get
together to do this or that. Artists just go into their studios
everyday and shut the door and remain there. Usually when they
come out they go to a park or somewhere where they will not
meet anyone. A surprising circumstance that I will try to ex-
The solitary life is full of terrors. If you went walking with
someone that would be one thing but if you went walking alone
in a lonely place that would be an entirely different thing. If you
were not completely distracted you would surely feel “the fear”
part of the time. I am not now speaking of the fear and dread of
helplessness which is a very unusual state of mind. I am speaking
of pervasive fear that is always with us. It is a constant state of
mind of which we are not aware when we are with others. We
are used to this fear and we know that when we are with anyone
else, even a stranger, we do not have it. That is all that we do
know about it. In solitude this fear is lived and finally under-
Worse than the terror of fear is the Dragon. The Dragon re-
ally pounds through the inner streets shaking everything and
breathing fire. The fire of his breath destroys and disinte-
grates everything. The Dragon is ^discriminating and leaves
absolutely nothing in his wake.
The solitary person is in great danger from the Dragon because
without an outside enemy the Dragon turns on the self. In fact,
self-destructiveness is the first of human weaknesses. When we
know all the ways in which we can be self-destructive that will
be very valuable knowledge indeed.
The terrible thing is that we are not just the Dragon but the
victim even when he is destroying someone else, and our suffer-
ing is according to just how destructive he feels. So we cannot
afford one moment of antagonism about anything.
1 hope that it is quite plain that I am not moralizing, but simply
describing some of the states of mind that are a hazard in
Sometimes through hard work the Dragon is weakened. The
resulting quiet is shocking. The work proceeds quickly and
without effort. But anytime the Dragon may rouse himself and
then one is driven from the studio. If he can then have a good
contest with someone else he is thoroughly aroused and the next
day he will go on and on about his victories round and round in
the mind. I am sure you have noticed it. But if he only goes to the
park he does not get completely roused and the next day he will
perhaps be quiet.
We cannot and do not slay the Dragon, that is a medieval idea, I
guess. We have to become completely familiar with him and
hope that he sleeps. The way things are most of the time, is that
he is awake and we are asleep. What we hope is the opposite.
I have known some very young artists who are familiar with the
Dragon und know many of his ways. They also recognize fear
and are independent of judgement. They recognize themselves as
mere shadows in reality. They like to be alone and seem to have
had plenty of practice of being alone since early childhood. All
that is a tremendous head start in art work and these artists are
correctly recognized as geniuses.
We will all get there someday however and do the work that we
are supposed to do. Of all the pitfalls in our paths and the
tremendous delays and wanderings off the track I want to say
that they are not what they seem to be. I want to say that all that
seems like fantastic mistakes are not mistakes and all that seems
like error is not error; and it all has to be done. That which
seems like a false step is just the next step.
You may as well give up judging your actions. If it is the
unconditioned life that you want, you do not know what you
should do or what you should have done. We will just have to
let everything go. Everything we know and everything everyone
else knows is conditioned. The conditoning goes all the way
back through evolution. The conditioned life, the natural life
and the conventional life are the same.
Say to yourselves: I am going to work in order to see myself and
free myself. While working and in the work I must be on the
alert to see myself. When I see myself in the work I will know
that that is the work I am supposed to do. I will not have much
time for other people’s problems. I will have to be by myself
almost all the time and it will be a quiet life.
Success is contentment with no discontentment about anything,
anything in the work or anything outside the work.
What was the reaction of the person who first made a symmetri-
cal house. He felt new contentment in the house. He could see
that it reflected himself. He felt a satisfaction in having built it
and perhaps an awareness of clarity in his mind as the means.
A contentment with oneself that is success. Do not stop short of
real contentment. You may as well never have been born if you
Perfection is not necessary. Perfection you cannot have. If you
do what you want to do and what you can do and if you can
then recognize it you will be contented. You cannot possibly
know what it will be but looking back you will not be surprised
at what you have done.
For those who are visual minded I will say: there seems to be a
fine ship at anchor. Fear is the anchor, convention is the chain,
ghosts stalk the decks, the sails are filled with Pride and the ship
does not move.
But there are moments for all of us in which the anchor is
weighed. Moments in which we learn what it feels like to move
freely, not held back by pride and fear. Moments that can be
recalled with all their fine flavor.
The recall of these moments can be stimulated by freeing
experiences including the viewing of works of art.
Artists try to maintain an atmosphere of freedom in order to
represent the perfection of those moments. And others searching
for the meaning of art respond by recalling their own free
Advice to Young Artists
The life of an artist is inspired, self sufficient and independent
(unrelated to society).
The direction of attention of an artist is towards mind in order
to be aware of inspiration.
Following inspiration life unfolds free of any influence.
Finally the artist recognizes himself in the work and is happy
and contented. Nothing else will satisfy him.
An artist’s life is an unconventional life. It leads away from the
example of the past.
It struggles painfully against its own conditioning. It appears to
rebel but in reality it is an inspired way of life.
The Still and Silent in Art
When interest in graphic art wanes I suppose it is possible to
imagine its slipping out of sight but 1 do not believe in that
My interest is in experience that is wordless and silent, and in
the fact that this experience can be expressed for me in art work
which is also wordless and silent. It is really wonderful to
contemplate the experience and the works. I am sure there will
always be some who make this response who will want to try to
express it graphically.
But with regard to the inner life of each of us it may be of great
significance. If we can perceive ourselves in the work — not the
work but ourselves when viewing the work then the work is
important. If we can know our response, see in ourselves what
ive have received from a work, that is the way to the under-
standing of truth and all beauty.
We cannot understand the process of life — that is everything
that happens to everyone. But we can know the truth by seeing
ourselves, by seeing the response to the work in ourselves.
Those wo depend upon the intellect are the many. Those who
depend upon perception alone are the few.
We perceive — We see. We see with our eyes and we see with our
minds. We want to see the truth about life and all of beauty.
Both are a great mystery to us.
Perceiving is the same as receiving and it is the same as respond-
ing. Perception means all of them. It goes on all the time whether
we are asleep or awake. When we wake we can recall that which
we perceived while sleeping.
Perception is a function. A function is part of a process. It does
not identify. We are not identified by perception.
We also think. Perception is the primary experience. Thinking;
we consider that which we have perceived. It is a secondary
experience. Thinking compares everything that we have per-
ceived with everything that we are perceiving at the moment.
There is no difference between thinking and relative living.
Thinking leads to pride, identification, confusion and fear.
Work is a function in which we seem to be identified. But in
reality work is a part of the process of life in which we cannot
perceive the beginning or end of our function. We have no
understanding of the process of life, in whole, or in part, and we
never will. We cannot therefore identify ourselves with our
work. Since the process of life reaches to the furthest star the
work of each of us is of no significance in the process. In the
great process, in the sum total of the outward being of all living
things our work is insignificant, infinitesimal and insignificant.
This must be realized.
What Is Real?
We are in the midst of reality responding with joy. It is an
absolutely satisfying experience but extremely elusive. It is
elusive because wc must recognize so many other things at the
The memory of past moments of joy leads us on. The responses
of happiness and joy are our first concern.
Works of art have successfully represented our response to
reality from the beginning. The artist tries to live in a way that
will make greater awareness of the sublimity of reality possible.
Reality, the truth about life and the mystery of beauty are all the
same and they are the first concern of everyone.
I want to emphasize the fact that we all have the same concern,
but the artist must know exactly what the experience is. He
must pursue the truth relentlessly. Once he sees this fact his feet
are on the path. If you want to know the truth you will know it.
The manipulation of materials in art work is a result of this state
of mind. The artist works by awareness of his own state of
In order to do so he must have a studio, as a retreat and as a
place to work. In the studio an artist must have no interruptions
from himself or anyone else. Interruptions are disasters. To hold
onto the “silver cord”, that is the artistic discipline. The artist’s
own mind will be all the help he needs.
There will be moving ahead and discoveries made every day.
There will be great disappointments and failures in trying to
express them. An artist is one who can fail and fail and still go
Let us now consider response to the concrete. Sometimes some
things look very beautiful and we are moved to happiness and
joy. Sometimes some things taste very good and we enjoy them
and are satisfied.
Let us look at our response to food from the beginning. We
grow almost all of our own food. We enjoy digging and planting
the seeds. We enjoy watching the plants grow and the fruit
develop. Imagine a pear tree covered with golden fruit. Suddenly
we pick the fruit and eat it and it is entirely destroyed.
It is the same with animals. They are beautiful to us and we
enjoy them but suddenly we kill them and eat them.
Violence, destructiveness and possessiveness are an integral part
of response to the concrete. This distresses some people very
much and they would like to escape from response to the
concrete in order to avoid them. Bur there is no escape.
Besides violence, destructiveness and possessiveness we have to
face frustrations. We think that we practice restraint in order to
avoid frustrations. But restraint is not possible because we have
to do what we have to do.
We are most concerned because having experienced joy we know
that it prevails and we think that with violence, destructiveness,
possessiveness and frustration we are off the track. The tran-
scendent response that is free from and unrelated to the concrete
environment is so blissful and seems so much more innocent that
we wish to seek to maintain it at the expense of a concrete
response. But it is not possible and it is not desirable. We are as
though on an adventurous journey and frustration merely points
out those things to be avoided and the rest maintains us on our
way. We cannot understand the details but we can know the truth
about it and accept it all and be contented.
Responding with joy is the path and we should work and eat
with joy. The joy counts and nothing else does.
There is in reality no need for self-sacrifice and no call for it. Do
not settle for the experience of others. If you follow others you
are in reality at a standstill, because their experience is in the
past. That is circling. Even following your own past experience,
is circling. Know your own response to your own work and to
the work of others.
To recall in one’s own mind past concrete experience is not
circling. It is so much easier to respond accurately when alone.
Experiences recalled are generally more satisfying and enlighten-
ing than the original experience. It is in fact the only way to
know one’s whole response.
To illustrate recall I will quote Wordsworth on having seen
“For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.”
The straight forward path, as we so often have been warned, is
extremely hard to maintain. Only joyful discoveries count. If
you are not making them you are not moving.
Now let us turn to abstract response, the response that we make
in our minds free from concrete environment. We know that it
prevails. We know that it is infinite, dimensionless, without
form and void. But it is not nothing because when we give our
minds to it we are blissfully aware.
Being without imperfection it is perfection. And being without
parts it is whole.
It is from our awareness of transcendent reality and our
response to concrete reality that our minds command us on our
way — not really on a path or to a gate — but to full response.
Complete consciousness is present to us at all times, every
moment, but we reject it in order to maintain our prejudices, our
ideas. But sooner or later we will relinquish our ideas in favour
of response because the truth prevails.
In the meantime we can see ourselves in our work. We can see
ourselves moving along. We can see the steps we take. We can
see that there is no such thing as going backward. We can be
We can know every day what we must do and we will have
plenty of energy with which to do it. We will know when it is
something we want and we will know when it is something that
we do not want.
There is a great hunger and thirst in all of us for the truth
whether we are aware of it or not. There is no-one unfeeling or
unseeing. To think oneself unique is the height of ignorance.
Appetite is of course positive but sometimes in moments of weak-
ness we have an immense yearning to escape. This is a very strong
feeling and very unattractive. If you feel y earning you should go
off by yourself and give it full reign and then you will see that with
great earnestness and determination it says, “me, me, me, me, me” .
You will see that yearning is defiant and rebellious and, also, it
exhausts itself which proves that it is unreal. We must give up
the idea of salvation. You cannot be saved and the rest left.
You must want joy for all not just for yourself. The exact same
joy, want it whole-heartedly for all. To want joy for yourself is un-
real, off the track and untrue. It is just as unreal to think you give
joy to others. Each has its own joy. Joy is life. You cannot give life.
You can want them to have it, that is as much as you can do.
Joy is Perception. Perception, reception and response are all the
same. Sometimes we perceive, sometimes we receive and some-
times we respond but it is all the same.
It is all awareness of reality.
In a Chinese vase we can see all that the artist rejected in order
to have as close an approximation as possible to his response to
reality. We can feel as he felt looking at his work. The same
response is made continually over a thousand years. Proving it is
reality. That is what art is about.
There is no such thing as “contemporary” art. Any material may
be used but the theme is the same and the response is the same
for all art work.
There is one great difference front man to man that 1 must
mention. It is a difference in willingness to perform his function.
We, each of us, is born to a certain function. Sometimes our
function is hidden from us by prejudice and fear. When an artist
becomes aware of his exact function, that is when he knows,
suddenly, exactly what he will do and how he will do it. We say
that he has attained to his vision. If this happens when he is very
young we say that he is a genius. It is sometimes baffling to the
rest of us that we have to do so much work that is unrelated to
art work. But looking back we can see the positive aspect of all
of our actions. Without vision that is without exact awareness
of our function we are discontented. When we are completely
aware of our function we are contented. You can see that
discontent is a positive state of mind urging us on to discover
Do not waste your feelings of discontent on society. When you
feel discontented ask yourself “what do 1 want”, “what do I
really want”. As soon as you ask yourself this question you will
realize that discontent arises out of it.
Your unwillingness to function may be so strong that you
cannot even ask yourself this question, in which case you will
seek help from others. But there will be no help for you
anywhere. You will find your vision for yourself at some time
when you are alone.
Part of our resistance to function is general resistance to con-
crete reality, to violence, destruction, possessiveness and frustra-
tion, but most of it is due to Pride and Fear.
When pride engages our minds it destroys everything that we
see, because pride countenances only pride itself. There is
another part of our minds that can see pride in action - raging
against this, and raging against that. Sometimes when not
otherwise engaged it rages against ourselves. Pride is responsible
for all of our blindness and a great deal of our discomfort but in
the end it will go down because it is not real.
Pride and deceit are one and the same. All of our deceit is due to
pride so you can see that it is a very tricky enemy.
We are aware of fear as soon as we are alone. Some of us are so
faint-hearted that we never allow ourselves to be alone for this
reason. But artists must of necessity be alone and therefore they
must recognize and overcome fear. This is a very long process.
If we say that we do not have pride and fear that is one of pride’s
deceptions, because we are all conditioned in pride and fear.
Now we must consider the idea of Power because without
freedom we cannot make our full response. With the idea of
power in our minds we are subject to that power. If you believe
in it, then it exists for you and you are naturally subject to it. But
in reality there is no power anywhere.
Speaking of physical power: water power is in reality that
element following its natural course downhill even though it
may flow through a dynamo. There is no entity that may be
termed power just by itself.
In the psychological field: still considering power we encounter
one of our most troublesome concepts, the idea of authority and
obedience. Using the parent-child situation as a base it is gener-
ally believed that those in authority are on top and those in
I want to take time with this concept and prove to you beyond
doubt that authority and obedience exist at the same time in
each of us, that we are all in a state of obedient authority at all
times, that it is a sublime state and that it is in fact a state of
positive freedom. In order to do this I will speak only of
Our lowest form of obedience is perhaps our obedience to
animals. We strive to accurately obey animals providing them
with water, food, clean housing, medicare and social security. In
return, and all the time the animal obeys us. If it does not, it is
considered to be a no-good animal.
Our most heart-felt and anxious obedience is a mother’s obedi-
ence to the infant, and her slavish obedience to her children as
long as they are in her care. Also from the very first moment the
infant and child must obey the mother. It is plain, is it not, that
they are both in authority and both in obedience at the same
time. The authority-obedience state of being is not a “some-
times” state but a continuous state of being. We are always in
authority and always in obedience.
The obedience of children is generally worthless because they
are inattentive and desultory. But there is obedience on the part
of some adults that is marvelous in its expression.
The obedience of performing musicians is extremely sensitive
and accurate. There is no way to describe the reward of absolute
obedience. Any response to art is obedience. I wish 1 could point
out how authoritative art work is dependent on the obedient
state of mind. Instead I will continue with concrete examples.
A policeman obeys the commands that come over his radio and
performs the dirtiest jobs in society, he also risks his life and as a
result he has a certain authority. The President, having promised
certain things to the people, obediently presents them to Con-
gress and obediently carries out the dictates of Congress. He is
the top authority because of his talent in obedience.
The most troublesome anti-freedom concept is our belief in a
transcendent supreme authority. It is recognition of our state of
obedience that makes us postulate this authority. But when we
see that all the authority there is, is within ourselves as a result
of our obedience then we are free. This is the only road to
The idea of leadership is another stumbling block to freedom.
You must see through leadership to its non-existence. A leader
exists only in the minds of his followers. Some leaders keep their
followers from changing their minds by the use of fear. In reality
there are no leaders or followers. Everyone is on his own private
The first step in giving up the ideas of power and leadership is to
give up wanting them for yourself. It sounds easy but your
conditioning has been that power and leadership lead to free-
dom regardless of the inherent contradiciton in that statement.
What is our happy conclusion. It is that we have plenty of
energy and we enjoy action. There is a purpose in our lives and it
is in operation every minute. When we are right on the track we
are rewarded with joy. We can know the whole truth with a
request to our minds. If we are completely without direction we
can withdraw and our minds will tell us the next step to take.
What We Do Not See If We Do Not See
We all believe in life.
We feel a certain devotion.
We feel called upon to live as good a life as we can.
We feel that we are in the dark and that even in darkness we
must struggle to know what is best to do.
Not altogether but each one every moment.
We feel that we should not live in just the same way as our
ancestors lived. We feel that we should take a step forward.
We know that this step will be in the dark and will require
Our tremendous urge forward has a grip of steel.
Because we are in the dark there is suffering and difficulty.
Life is an adventure and adventures are difficult.
They are hard work and one does not know how they will go on
or how they will end.
Nevertheless we have a tremendous appetite for the adventure
We are continually restless if we are not moving forward
according to our potential.
Although we are in the dark we are not without guidance.
Our guidance is called inspiration.
In crisis we say to ourselves: “What can I do”, and miraculously
our mind answers and tells us what to do.
This miraculous answer is called an idea very often but it is not
There are different parts of the mind.
When we are angry one part of the mind stands as though
outside and we see ourselves raving.
This part that stands as the outside of ourselves is the conscious
The conscious mind that is aware of perfection, happiness and
When we see ourselves with the conscious mind angry and
perhaps raving we feel guilty.
We recognize that we are off the path — We are off the path of
The conscious mind says Yi?s and No.
When it says: “Yes, go ahead, this is the way”, we feel happy.
When it says: “You should not be here and you should not he
doing this”. At those times we feel unhappy.
Our problem is not that we do not see or hear the conscious
mind hut that we do not obey.
When we see ourselves angry and the conscious mind is saying
“No” we still go on.
And when it says: “You should not go” we rationalize and say:
“Everyone else is going”.
We knowingly disobey the conscious mind.
In this life we are struggling from death into life.
This has been remarked by all sages of all times.
The adventure of life is the relinquishing of death and the
acceptance of life.
In the lives that we lead there is both life and death.
The conscious mind is life and happiness and all things sublime.
Death is all thing anti-life and truth.
The most dangerous anti-life and destructive tendency is self
deception known as fantasy. Imagining that we are other than
The opposite of fantasy, true knowledge of self, is the greatest
The conscious mind is awareness of the sublime and it tells us
what to do by showing us when we are off the track.
Obedience to the conscious mind carries us forward to greater
Disobedience of the conscious mind carries us backward to less
With more accurate obedience we become rapidly more aware
of the sublime: of beauty and happiness in life.
We become more devoted to life.
With disobedience we become less and less aware with less
respect for life.
This is the side of death in the adventure of life versus death. We
will be disrespectful of life and everything in it, even of our-
selves. We will be complaining and destructive and we will have
resistance to living our own life.
Other peoples lives will look better to us than our own life, more
interesting and more rewarding.
This is a very unnatural state of mind. If you have this state of
mind you must recognize at once that you are very far off the
track of life and happiness.
To correct this state of mind you must say to yourself: “/ want
to lire a true life. ”
That is all you have to do to turn from death to life.
Asking for life and truth you will be on the side of life and
I will not speak any more of death because it does not count.
Reality is positive.
Art work is a celebration of reality of the positive.
A positive response to life (which we call happiness) is not a
single response. It is infinitely various and goes far beyond what
we are able to bear.
We cannot reproduce reality or represent it concretely. It is
In art work we represent our own happiness because of our
awareness of the infinite sublimity of reality.
Without awareness of beauty, innocence and happiness and
without happiness oneself one cannot make works of art.
Criticism and discontent expressed concretely are complaint and
destructiveness. All negative expression is anti-life and anti-art.
Besides recognition of the sublime there are two other elements
in life that must be recognized and lived.
They are self knowledge and potential.
If you have enough respect for yourself you will ask yourself:
“ What am I. ”
If the answer is “I am a man” then the question becomes: “What
is a man.
When you come to the end of all ideas you will still have no
definitive knowledge on the subject. Then you will have to wait
Until you can clear up your true identity you will be tied to a
repetition of this life.
I have come to tell you the easiest way to find an answer to this
First you must say to yourself: “I want to live a true life.” Then
you must watch your mind to see the response that it is making
You will discover the true response that you yourself make to
life undistorted by the ideas of others.
You will make discoveries every day and they will all be very
Just as consciousness of the sublime is the path of life so is self
knowledge the path of life.
Neither consciousness nor self knowledge can be pursued so-
In groups we can compare our observations of life but life itself
is lived by individuals.
Changes in social living are the result of changes that take place
First some truth must be recognized by an individual (that is
what we call inspiration) and then it must be expressed con-
cretely and responded to by others.
The cause of these changes is not with us but is a result of the
battle of life and death.
It is not just big inspirations that move life forward.
Every time an individual asks his mind what to do and receives
direction and acts upon it life moves forward.
Since we almost all live in this way life moves forward very
rapidly even though we have some tremendous setbacks.
It is up to us only in that our pursuit of awareness is on the side
As life is recognized death is overcome.
The only triumph in life is the triumph of life itself.
Our awareness of it we feel as happiness.
Art work represents this happiness.
It does not represent life because life is infinite, dimensionless. It
is consciousness of itself. And that cannot be represented.
But our positive response to life can be, has been, and is
represented in art work.
And now we come to the last element to be considered, our
We, each of us feels that our life is not like anyone else’s life and
that is absolutely true, infinitely true.
To live an absolutely original life one has only to be oneself.
In nature there is no sameness anywhere. There are no two rocks
alike, no days alike, no moments alike even forever.
And no two people alike or any moment of their lives.
It follows from this that we cannot help one another since our
responses are not alike.
Since we are not alike the experience of others is of no use to us.
This is particularly obvious when we wish to know what to do.
e are all born with a certain potential. It is different from that
of anyone else and it is necessary to life.
e must unfold our potential as a contribution to life.
We are born to do certain things and we are born to fill a certain
If there is a bare spot on the ground the best possible weed for
that environment will grow.
In the same way our lives are created out of necessity and we are
created with the potential to meet the necessity.
The resistance to function, that is our resistance to the unfolding
of our potential is due to the strength of the negative in life.
e are born as verbs rather than nouns.
We are born to function in life, to work and do all positive
actions that will carry out our potential.
When our potential is fully expended we will not be back. Our
concrete existence will come to an end.
Our ideas - deductions made from observed facts of life, are of
no use in the unfolding of potential.
Only obedience to the conscious mind counts. That is like saying
only inspiration counts.
Inspiration is a command. While you have a choice that is not
If a decision is required that is not inspiration and you should
doc do anything by decision. It is simply a waste of time.
Things done by decision even if it is a summit decision are in
effective and they will be undone.
Only actions carried out in obedience to inspiration are effective.
When we first begin art work we usually have a lot of ideas that
we have to try. But nothing that we do really satisfies us.
Finally we are absolutely defeated. We do not know what to do.
1 want to try to explain to you that defeat is the beginning, not
the end of all positive action.
A baby learning to walk knows that if he stands on his feet he
will fall. He knows that he cannot walk. He is defeated and
This knowledge is an absolute prerequisite to inspiration.
Defeated and helpless he receives the inspiration to get to his
He is now defeated and helpless with regard to taking a step but
again he is commanded forward.
At every moment we are helpless and defeated and at every
moment we are commanded forward by inspiration.
There is no choice while we are on the true path.
Our inspirations come as a surprise to us.
Following them our lives are fresh and unpredictable.
But if in disobedience we imitate the lives of others or follow
concepts or precepts our lives will be dull and unsatisfying and
The unfolding of potential in obedience to inspiration is happi-
ness in this life. An arduous happiness in which we move
Disobedience is unhappiness and moving toward unconscious-
Happiness is self sought. It is life.
You can only bring happiness to others by being happy yourself.
You can only be happy by being on the path of your unfolding
The path will be revealed to you by a request to your own
If your mind is concerned with the political, with policies and
methods, with causes and reforms your work will not be in the
The Greeks made a great discovery. They discovered that in
Nature there are no perfect circles or straight lines or equal
Yet they discovered that their interest and inclination was in the
perfection of circles and lines, and that in their minds they could
see them and that they were then able to make them.
They realized that the mind knows what the eye has not seen but
that what the mind knows is perfection.
They determined that with the help of the conscious mind to
attain to perfection.
Because the Greeks sought the guidance of their conscious mind
their work is very inspiring to us. Because they were inspired we
are inspired by their work.
Work that is guided by the conscious mind is immediately
responded to by others.
It is very easy to see how Greek art has been a very for-life-
Today we realize that perfection is out of reach for us because
we ourselves are a part of Nature but it is still our greatest
What we see now is that the path pointed out to us by the
Greeks, the path guided by the conscious mind, is the path of life
and happiness and accomplishment in this world.
To discover the conscious mind in a world where intellect is held
to be valuable requires solitude — quite a lot of solitude.
We have been very strenuously conditioned against solitude. To
be alone is considered to be a grievous and dangerous condition.
So I beg you to recall in detail any times when you were alone
and discover your exact response at those times.
1 suggest to artists that you take every opportunity of being
alone, that you give up having pets and unnecessary compan-
You will find the fear that we have been taught is not just one
fear but many different fears.
^Tien you discover what they are they will be overcome.
Most people have never been alone enough to feel these fears.
But even without the experience of them they dread them.
I suggest that people who like to be alone, who walk alone will
perhaps be serious workers in the art field.
All effective work in any field is dominated by the inspiration of
individuals. All other work is evanescent.
Inspiration is never destructive.
This has been pointed out most effectively by Gandhi and after
him by Martin Luther King.
It never points to what someone else should do. It tells the
individual what he must do.
All of your inspirations will be related to your particular poten-
Thus Martin Luther King suggested to the colored people that
they must not try to change the white people but must change
themselves. Not by policy or method but each one must change
And I suggest to you that this way is not just for emergencies but
is the way of life.
The individual by himself must move forward by inspiration in
order to live. Not by help from others or with knowledge from
the past. Real life is lived by Self Discovery.
In the night inspiration falls on the world like rain and pene-
trates our minds when we are asleep.
It is because of this that we are so eager, so desperate for sleep.
It penetrates all clear minds.
People with such minds wake up eager to carry out the com-
mands of inspiration.
They feel energetic, enthusiastic and are happy at the prospect of
They also feel contentment and spontaneous gratitude and are
filled with the spirit of adventure.
If you think all night or if you are drugged inspiration cannot
penetrate. Then with reluctance you will be forced to live a life
If during the day you can keep from intellectualizing your life
and keep from dreams you will double your possibility of being
inspired. You will then move forward very quickly.
It is commonly believed that accomplishment follows dreams.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Those who dream
dream and those who can act are active.
The pretence of children is not a dream. They are playing and
they know it.
Children make a perfect response to life. They see everything as
beautiful and perfect, often telling their parents how beautiful
and wonderful they are.
Children always love their parents with perfect love regardless
of what the parents are like. They have to learn to bear
frustration which makes them seem unhappy at times.
Living without sufficient inspiration which is the incentive to life
we tend to forget the perfect response we made as children and
we become more and more blind.
It is necessary to make an absolute about face and search out
our true response.
You will be thinking: “It is easy enough for children because
they have no responsibilities”, but 1 assure you that you also can
make a perfect response to life without worry or strain.
You have to see what you have to do in your mind’s eye.
You have to give it time.
It is hard for your mind to get through to you because of the
jumble it is in.
With seeing the direction the energy necessary to carry out the
action is given. When it is carried out the energy is taken away
so that you can rest.
If you feel tired it is because you cannot see.
If you cannot see the next step you will take and the happiness
you will know taking it. Then you cannot see.
If you cannot see you must withdraw yourself till you see what
your next action will be.
In confusion and blindness there is no help for you anywhere
except from your own mind.
From your own mind there is all the help you need.
The Current of the River of Life Moves Us
What we really want to do is serve happiness.
We want everyone to be happy, never unhappy even for a mo-
ment. We want the animals to be happy. The happiness of every
living thing is what we want.
We want it very much but we cannot bring it about.
We cannot make even one individual happy.
It seems that this thing that we want most of all is out of our
But we were born to serve happiness and we do serve it.
The confusion is due to our lack of awareness of real happiness.
Happiness is pervasive.
It is everywhere. And everywhere the same.
And it is forever.
When people are really happy they say: “This will last forever
even after death”, and that is true.
When we are unhappy it is because something is covering our
minds and we are not able to be aware of happiness. When the
difficulty is past we find happiness again.
It is not that happiness is all around us. That is not it at all. It is
not this or that or in this or that.
It is an abstract thing.
Happiness is unattached. Always the same. It does not appear
and disappear. It is not sometimes more and sometimes less. It is
our awareness of happiness that goes up and down.
Happiness is our real condition.
It is reality.
It is life.
In this life, life is represented by beauty and happiness.
If you are completely unaware of them you are not alive.
The times when you are not aware of beauty and happiness you
are not alive.
When we see life we call it beauty. It is magnificent — wonderful.
Vie may be looking at the ocean when we are aware of beauty
but it is not the ocean. We may be in the desert and we say that
we are aware of the “living desert” but it is not the desert.
Life is ever present in the desert and everywhere, forever.
By awareness of life we are inspired to live.
Life is consciousness of life itself.
The measure of your life is the amount of beauty and happiness
of which you are aware.
The life of an artist is a very good opportunity for life.
When we realize that we can see life we gradually give up the
things that stand in the way of our complete awareness.
As we paint we move along step by step. We realize that we are
guided in our work by awareness of life.
We are guided to greater expression of awareness and devotion
We recognize the great exultation with life of great artists like Beet-
hoven and we realize that all great artists praise and exult life.
The life of an artist is completely unmaterialistic, because beauty
and happiness and life are all the same and they are pervasive,
unattached and abstract and they are our only concern.
They are immeasurable, completely lacking in substance. They
are perfect and sublime.
This is the subject matter of art.
Naturally artists become passionately devoted to life — not to
material living, not to the conventional idea of life but to the life
that we see.
The fields speak and the hills speak “as though with tongues”
and what they say is wonderful.
You must say to yourself: “How can I best step into this state of
mind and devote myself to the expression of life.”
You must not be led astray into the illustration of ideas because
that is not art work. It is ineffective even though it is often
accepted for a short time. It does not contribute to happiness
and it is finally discarded.
The art work in the Metropolitan Museum or the British
Museum does not illustrate ideas.
The great and fatal pitfall in the art field and in life is depend-
ence on the intellect rather than inspiration.
Dependence on intellect means a consideration of observed facts
and deductions from observation as a guide in life.
Dependence on inspiration means dependence on consciousness,
a growing consciousness that develops from awareness of
beauty and happiness.
To live and work by inspiration you have to stop thinking.
You have to hold your mind still in order to hear inspiration
Even now you can hear it saying, “Yes” and “No”. You look at
a painting and say: “Is this it”, and your mind answers and says:
“Yes” or “No”.
If it says “Yes” it means that you have just made the work that
you should have made. What your mind says never applies to
anyone else. This work is what is possible for you according to
your awareness of life.
There are no criteria. No possibility for criticism.
By the use of intellect we have created a world of ideas that does
not actually exist.
The political world is a structure conceived and agreed to by us
but it is not a reality.
You have been conditioned to believe that this political world is
in fact real.
With this conception it is believed that we have come into
ownership of the world and that we are responsible for creating
it. And with this concept we have placed ourselves in a condition
of perpetual responsibility and reform.
But since we are not creating the world, since it was created
before us and we are merely in it, and since we do not own it,
our whole political concept is false.
It is untrue. It is not based in reality or true life.
An artist must see this and give up all reform and political
The world evolves due to changes that take place in individuals.
By individuals 1 mean all living things.
The world evolves due to a growing awareness in the lives of all
things and is expressed in their actions.
The actions of all things are guided by a growing awareness of life.
We call it inspiration.
Living by inspiration is living. Living by intellect — by compari-
sons, calculations, schemes, concepts, ideas — is all a structure of
pride in which there is not beauty or happiness — no life.
The intellectual is in fact death.
I will give you an example: If you were at the beach and keenly
aware of the shining waves, the fragrant air, the freedom of
mind, feeling happy and free — that is reality. That is life.
Now if someone came on the beach with a radio and tuned it to
the news - that is the intellectual and political. You would feel
the shock of moving suddenly from reality to unreality. You
would be depressed and irritated.
The political is a negation of life. It is negative living, anti-life.
The divide and own concept. The we are the creators concept is
the concept of pride. Where pride walks nothing of life remains.
It is the supreme destroyer of life. Pride leaves nothing in its
path. It is death in life.
All great visionaries agree that we move in this life from death to
life, from error to awareness of truth, from negation of life to
total awareness and devotion, passionate devotion to life, from
death to everlasting life, from blindness to enlightenment, from
unconsciousness and dreams to consciousness.
I will describe to you the negative attitude toward life even
though it is ineffective and of no account. The negative person
has no respect for life, his own or anyone’s. He is complaining
and destructive and convinced that to get ahead in life he must
take advantage of others. He is going to fight, born to fight - for
his rights, for his ideas, in self defence and for his advantage.
All aggressiveness is negative regardless of the cause, except in
the defence of innocence. (In the defence of innocence we will all
be very brave. No practice is needed.)
We must not worry about the negative attitude in others. When
I say the negative is of no account I mean it is ineffective
negatively in life. Since it is a part of life and life is positive it is
of course positive. And we can see dimly how the Mafia for
instance preying on the weak makes them turn away from pride
Evil in life is the actions that result from lack of respect for
That is enough for death, now for real life.
In real life we get everything we want and need, just like the
grass. It is all laid on.
Fate is kind.
You will look hack in old age and say: “I had everything 1 really
When we see someone who has been poor all his life we think
that he has been deprived hut in reality he was unable to want
more than he had. His lack of potential for life limited his life.
He lacked energy, zest and gratitude.
Fate is kind.
At every moment we are presented with happiness, the sublime,
absolute perfection. We are unable to grasp it due to the pull of
death, commonly known as weakness.
Fate is kind.
In that beside the pull of death there is the pull of life, which is
our desire to live fully and truly, a very strong pull indeed. When
we engage in the battle with death the pull of life always wins. If
death wins temporarily it means the battle is not over.
If you want life on your side or to be on the side of life against
death you must surrender completely to life. You will have to
make an about face because you have been conditioned to
There are lots of parents who would like their children to he
artists but when they get to this point of surrender to life they
change their minds. Everyone who cannot himself surrender to
life will be antagonistic.
It is in this way that an artist becomes a pariah. He is described
as egocentric when in reality he sacrifices the most. The children
of artists are very well off because their parents are guided by
life, and life dictates that innocence must be protected as the
source. The wives of artists also if they are more innocent than
their husbands will be protected.
If you are on the side of life you are warned not to offend against
innocence and if you disobey your own mind you are rendered
It is the same with painting. If the word from your mind is that
the painting is not good enough and you decide to fight the
world for it, you have rejected your inspiration and are rendered
But when you give up the painting and return for help, inspira-
tion like a good mother returns and you are once more on your
Hold fast to your life, to beauty and happiness and inspiration,
and to obedience to inspiration. Do not imitate others or seek
advice anywhere except from your own mind. No-one can help
you. No-one knows what your life should be. No-one knows
what your life or life itself should be because it is in the process
of being created.
Life moves according to a growing consciousness of life and is
If you live according to human knowledge, according to precept,
values and standards, you live in the past.
If you live entirely in the past you will not know beauty or
happiness and you will not in fact live.
You must believe in life. Believe that you can know the truth
You must reject the idea that mankind is in control. That is the
same as an ant believing that the anthill is life.
Since we are not in control we need not worry about life, nor
about our own lives but wait in readiness.
Suffering in life being a part of life is also positive, since all of life
Suffering means that you have engaged to resist death and the
battle of life and death is on. Life will win.
It was the pull of life that incited you to resist death. That is why
I say that the current of the river of life moves us. Awareness of
life, beauty and happiness is the current of the river.
With great awareness we move rapidly. With no awareness we
do not move. Life moves on and we remain in death, in
confusion and lack of happiness.
I am sure that all of you have had the vision of stepping into a
boat and casting off and being afloat on the river of life. That
vision is at the urging of life itself.
Those with a strong urge to adventure will move rapidly.
Those with security as a goal will not move.
Truth is the goal.
Truth at whatever the cost — the cost is high in suffering.
Those that want to live a true life that is a life that is guided by
the conscious mind are surrounded by multitudes that are
practically dedicated to ancestor worship.
The multitudes that believe that right and wrong are established
and that all that is required is conformity.
The multitudes that give lip service to the transcendent but when
the chips are down live a completely materialistic life of con-
quest and possession.
We don’t have to think about the multitudes since all things in
life are positive but 1 assure you that the state of mind necessary
to create effective art work is just the opposite of the state of
mind of the multitudes.
But we are still not rebels.
To rebel means to destroy existing circumstances. It is anti-life
since life is the real creator.
I think you can see that it is life itself that creates life out of
Beauty Is the Mystery of Life
When I think of art I think of beauty. Beauty is the mystery of
life. It is not in the eye it is in the mind. In our minds there is
awareness of perfection.
We respond to beauty with emotion. Beauty speaks a message to
us. We are confused about this message because of distractions.
Sometimes we even think that it is in the mail. The message is
about different kinds of happiness and joy. Joy is most success-
fully represented in Beethoven’s ninth Symphony and by the
All art work is about beauty; all positive work represents it and
celebrates it. All negative art protests the lack of beauty in our
When a beautiful rose dies beauty does not die because it is not
really in the rose. Beauty is an awareness in the mind. It is a
mental and emotional response that we make. We respond to
life as though it were perfect. When we go into a forest we do
not see the fallen rotting trees. We are inspired by a multitude of
uprising trees. We even hear a silence when it is not really silent.
When we see a newborn baby we say it is beautiful — perfect.
The goal of life is happiness and to respond to life as though it
were perfect is the way to happiness. It is also the way to
positive art work.
It is not in the role of an artist to worry about life — to feel
responsible for creating a better world. This is a very serious
distraction. All of your conditioning has been directed toward
intellectual living. This is useless in art work. AJ1 human know-
ledge is useless in art work. Concepts, relationships, categories,
classifications, deductions are distractions of mind that we wish
to hold free for inspiration.
There are two parts of the mind. The outer mind that records
facts and the inner mind that says “yes” and “no”. When you
think of something that you should do the inner mind says “yes”
and you feel elated. We call this inspiration.
For an artist this is the only way. There is no help anywhere. He
must listen to his own mind.
The way of an artist is an entirely different way. It is a way of
surrender. He must surrender to his own mind.
When you look in your mind you find it covered with a lot of
rubbishy thoughts. You have to penetrate these and hear what
your mind is telling you to do. Such work is original work. All
other work made from ideas is not inspired and it is not art
Art work is responded to with happy emotions. Work about
ideas is responded to with other ideas. There is so much written
about art that it is mistaken for an intellectual pursuit.
It is quite commonly thought that the intellect is responsible for
everything that is made and done, it is commonly thought that
everything that is can be put into words. But there is a wide
range of emotional response that we make that cannot be put
into words. We are so used to making these emotional responses
that we are not consciously aware of them till they are repre-
sented in art work.
Our emotional life i really dominant over our intellectual life
but we do not realize it.
You must discover the art work that you like and realize the
response that you make to it. You must especially know the
response that you make to your own work. It is in this way that
you discover your direction and the truth about yourself. If you
do not discover your response to your own work you miss the
reward. You must look at the work and know how it makes you
If you are not an artist you can make discoveries about yourself
by knowing your response to work that you like.
Ask yourself: “What kind of happiness do I feel with this music
or this picture.”
There is happiness that we feel without any material stimulation
We may wake up in the morning feeling happy for no reason.
Abstract or non objective feelings are a very important part of
our lives. Personal emotions and sentimentality are anti-art.
We make art work as something that we have to do not
knowing how it will work out. When it is finished we have to see
if it is effective. Even if we obey inspiration we cannot expect all
the work to be successful. An artist is a person who can
If you were a composer you would not expect everything you
played to be a composition. It is the same in the graphic arts.
There are many failures.
Art work is the only work in the world that is unmaterialistic.
All other work contributes to human welfare and comfort. You
can see from this that human welfare and comfort are not the
interests of the artist. He is irresponsible because his life goes in
a different direction. His mind will be involved with beauty and
happiness. It is possible to work at something other than art and
maintain this state of mind and be moving ahead as an artist.
The immaterial interest is essential.
The newest trend and the art scene are unnecessary distractions
for a serious artist. He will be much more rewarded responding
to art of all times and places. Not as art history but considering
each piece and its value to him.
You can’t think “My life is more important than the work” and
get the work. You have to think the work is paramount in your
life. An artist’s life is adventurous. One new thing after another.
I have been talking directly to artists but it applies to all. Take
advantage to the awareness of perfection in your mind. See
perfection in every thing around you. See if you can discover
your true feelings when listening to music. Make happiness your
goal. The way to discover the truth about this life is to discover
yourself. Say to yourself: “What do I like and what do I want.”
Find out exactly what you want in life. Ask your mind for
inspiration about everything.
Beauty illustrates happiness; the wind in the grass, the glistening
waves following each other, the flight of birds, all speak of
The clear blue sky illustrates a different kind of happiness and
the soft dark night a different kind. There are an infinite number
of different kinds of happiness.
The response is the same for the observer as it is for the artist.
The response to art is the real art field.
Composition is an absolute mystery. It is dictated by the mind.
The artist searches for certain sounds or lines that are acceptable
to the mind and finally an arrangement of them that is accept-
able. The acceptable compositions arouse certain feelings of
appreciation in the observer. Some compositions appeal to some
and some to others.
But if they are not accepted by the artist’s mind they will not
appeal to anyone. Composition and acceptance by mind are
essential to art work. Commercial art is consciously made to
appeal to the senses which is quite different. Art work is very
valuable and it is also very scarce. It takes a great deal of
application to make a composition that is totally acceptable.
Beethoven’s symphonies with every note composed represent a
titanic human effort.
To progress in life you must give up the things that you do not
like. Give up doing the things that you do not like to do. You
must find the things that you do like. The things that are
acceptable to your mind.
You can see that you will have to have time to yourself to find
out what appeals to your mind. While you go along with others
you are not really living your life. To rebel against others is just
as futile. You must find your way.
Happiness is being on the beam with life — to feel the pull of life.
Blue ink on paper, 22,9.x ’’,9 cm
Annemarie and Gianfranco Verna, Zurich
Warercolor, pencil and china ink on paper, 22,9 x22,9
cm Private Collection, Basle
P- 5 5
Oil on canvas, 30,5x 30,5 cm
Private Collection, Basle
Warercolor, pencil and ink on paper, 30,2x30,2 cm
Warercolor and china ink on paper, 22,9x22,9 cm
Warercolor and ink on rice paper, 22,9x22,9 cm
Annemarie and Gianfranco Verna, Zurich
Warercolor and colored china ink on paper, 22,9x22,9 cm
The Jedlicka Family
1 7 1
Notes 1 5
Answer to an Inquiry 19
The Untroubled Mind 35
Willie Stories 57
Parable of the Equal Hearts 59
Lecture at Cornell University 61
On the Perfection Underlying Life 6 7
Advice to Young Artists 85
The Still and Silent in Art 89
What Is Real? 93
What We Do Not See If We Do Not See m
The Current of the River of Life Moves Us 13 5
Beauty Is the Mystery of Life 153
Notes to the Texts 16 1